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MonkeyNotes-Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson-Free Study Guide
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STORY 6 - 'NOBODY KNOWS'

SETTING

The setting of this short story is Will Overton's berry field, in Winesburg, Ohio, where George and Louise meet in the night.

CHARACTER LIST

George Willard - The young boy, who acquires his first sexual experience with Louise.

Louise Trunnion - A young girl who actually writes a letter to George, asking him to come to her and expects that George will love her.

CONFLICT

Protagonist - George is the main character in the story, as he is the one chosen by Louise to spend time with her.

Antagonist - There is no antagonist, since ever Louise merely fulfills George's desire for a sexual adventure.

Climax - The climax occurs when George receives a note from Louise, asking him to meet her outside her home.

Outcome - The result is that an excited and nervous George meets Louise and takes her to the berry fields where they make love.


THEMES

The theme of excitement in love has been portrayed. Not only has the first thrill of sex and adventure been described, but also the excitement of concealment and haste in the matters of sex has been portrayed. George is nervous of his act, yet confident, and pleased too. Thus the theme of the story is the nervous excitement in unknown pleasure.

MOOD

The mood in this story is light and mischievous. The darkness of the night has been used to hide the deed. At the end of it, George's mood is mellow as well as filled with nervous excitement.

STORY SUMMARY

George Willard hurriedly leaves his desk at the 'Eagle' office and makes his way through the night. All day at the office, he had been in a daze thought and eventually at six' o clock he finally decides to set forth upon his adventure.

George passes street after street, avoiding known faces until he reaches his father's house he finds Louise Trunnion the servant girl, in the kitchen. On seeing him, she suddenly retorts that he shouldn't have been so certain that she would have accompanied her out, George is flummoxed, since it was Louise who has earlier sent him a letter with the terse message, "I'm yours if you want me." Annoyed at her impertinence, George walks out, but Louise follows him. They reach a secluded barn and stand still, facing each other. George is excited by her touch. The whispered tale concerning her that had gone about town gives him confidence. Urging her that no one will come to know, they walk ahead, till they reach a field and they lie down besides each other.

When George returns back to Main Street, it is after ten-o clock He feels satisfied and begins to whistle softly. As he goes ahead, he however mutters uneasily to himself, "She hasn't got anything on me. Nobody knows."

Notes

The nature of George's adventure can be noted by all the secrecy behind it, by the cautious way he leaves his office and by his avoiding all familiar faces on the streets. His nervousness on stumbling over the town drunkard and getting unnerved by a cat in the alley all support his heightened state.

Rumors have it that Louise Trunnion seems to be the hot number of the town and an easy catch too. This has probably emboldened George to meet her along with the proof of her letter to him. She comes across as a saucy yet sullen girl, with very lax morals. Though not particularly comely to look at, her reputation has preceded her.

George has been humanized in this story and has been revealed with all his hunger and desire of his youth. At the same time to hide this fact from his people is important hence the subterfuge. His aggressive words to her, "There won't be anyone know anything. How can they" is as much to boost his confidence as it is for her. For Louise, however, it is not an uncommon adventure, and she remains calm and unperturbed throughout.

After his adventure though self-satisfied, he is a bit nervous too, and again his thought, "she hasn't got anything on me. Nobody knows" is simply a wish to reinforce the idea into himself, and reassert his confidence.

CHARACTER ANALYSIS

George Willard - George is still young and is experiencing the first throes of sexual excitement. He therefore comes across as an inexperienced lad just being led into the realms of love. George has been depicted as a young lad; bed into the throes of first passion and adventure. He is also nervous since he is obviously inexperienced, while she is not. The incident itself is brief and perfunctory, but George's excitement is understandable. His main satisfaction is on the fact that this incident is not going to be disclosed to anyone, and no one will know of it, ever.

Louise Trunnion - Louise is obviously of not too high a character. She can ever be claimed loose, in her own way. After all, it is she who had made the fast more towards George. Her surly behavior to George too shows that the act does not hold as much a thrill as it does to the inexperienced George. Even when they reach a point near the fields her voice is calm and unperturbed. Her behavior need not necessarily cast her in the role of a whore; she is probably just an easy woman with not too many scruples and morals.

PLOT STRUCTURE ANALYSIS

The plot begins with George setting forth to woo Louise into coming out with him. The climax is achieved by the mating of the two individuals. After the act, George's main reaction is the self-assurance that no one has seen them having their nocturnal rendezvous. This story does not swing from present to past. The entire story deals with the present. The time element is more important. The story takes place only in the nighttime. Darkness of the night has been utilized for the consummation to take place.

THEMES - THEME ANALYSIS

The only theme in the story is the first sexual encounter of a young boy with an experienced girl and further the lad's keenness in hiding this incident. The boy knows that his act is not a socially approved one, which is why he is particular about hiding it under the blanket of the night. The theme depicts the urge to find sexual pleasures, combined with the realization of its indecorousness and the consequent desire to hide it from the world's eyes.

STUDY QUESTIONS

What is the reason for the keenness in George not to let anyone know of his escapades?

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